THE owners of SWS Wind Energy, who are considering whether or not to sell the company, rebuffed an unsolicited offer from Bord Gáis late last year, according to industry sources.

The semi-state gas company, led by John Mullins, has made no secret of its desire to expand its wind energy portfolio as part of its efforts to establish itself as a major player in domestic electricity.

It is unclear how close the two companies came to agreeing a deal but it is believed the Bord Gáis approach was just one of several offers, which eventually led SWS Wind Energy to appoint the Royal Bank of Canada as sale advisers earlier this month.

Although a price tag of up to €800m has been mooted, sources have said there is no guarantee that SWS will actually be sold. It is understood the company's shareholders are keeping an open mind on the possibility of a sale.

"They're very much operating on a business as usual basis. The process isn't necessarily going to end in a sale but the shareholders realise they are in a hot sector at the moment and they want to examine their options," according to one industry figure.

Last year, the company fully refinanced its entire portfolio of projects and industry sources believe it now has sufficient capital to continue expanding at its current rate for another three years.